Moore scores late winner as Walleye open up 3-1 series lead

TOLEDO, OhioTrevor Hamilton scored twice in the second period before Bryan Moore netted the game-winner with 4:38 remaining to lift the Toledo Walleye to a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday in front of a capacity crowd of 7,482 at the Huntington Center, giving the hosts a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division Finals.

After maneuvering past DeVante Stephens at center ice, Moore comfortably gained the zone on the left wing and showed veteran patience as he waited for Kurt Gosselin to slide out of position before lifting a shot past the blocker of Michael Houser to stake Toledo to its second and final lead of the night. By tallying the deciding goal in Game 4, Moore has tied Dylan Sadowy and Greg Wolfe for the team lead with his fifth goal of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club.

The Walleye, who have sold out four of their six postseason home dates, will now travel to Cincinnati to play as many as three straight contests at U.S. Bank Arena. Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Toledo outshot Cincinnati by a 14-8 count during a goalless first period, but fell behind for the second consecutive game 4:25 into the second stanza. Brady Vail won a faceoff in the offensive zone and eventually sent the puck toward the left point to Tobie Bisson, who fired a slapshot that ricocheted off Wolfe’s stick and into the top right corner.

The Walleye quickly extinguished the Cyclones’ momentum and pulled even at the 8:59 mark of the same frame. Hamilton took a pass from Wolfe at the lower part of the right circle and initially looked to center the puck, but instead had his first attempt on goal blocked by Houser before moving to the backhand to chip his own rebound inside the left post.

The hosts proceeded to snatch a 2-1 lead courtesy of Hamilton’s second goal of the period. Berschbach collected a loose puck in the left corner and threw a pass from the left half-boards that was determined to have deflected off Hamilton’s right leg at the lower edge of the right circle and past Houser at 14:25. 

Tyler Spezia was whistled for interference 19 seconds prior to the second intermission, and Cincinnati leveled the score on the ensuing power play 1:35 into the final frame. Jesse Schultz took a pass from Eric Knodel in the right corner and promptly centered the puck to Justin Vaive at the right circle for a wrist shot into the top left corner. 

Cincinnati finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Toledo was unable to convert on two opportunities. Pat Nagle stopped 25-of-27 shots to earn third-star honors and improve his postseason record to 7-3, as Houser turned away 34-of-37 in a losing cause.

Three Stars:
1. Toledo – Bryan Moore (game-winning goal)
2. Toledo – Trevor Hamilton (two goals)
3. Toledo – Pat Nagle (W, 25 saves)


Bryan Moore potted the game-winning goal in Toledo's 3-2 win over Cincinnati in Game 4. (Photo: Scott W. Grau)